Thursday, July 31, 2014

Swing and a miss, Ubisoft.

Ooh look, a new Assassin's Creed Unity trailer...



...and it ends with an ad for a special edition with a figure of ACU's super-important female character we're just now hearing about.  But I'll bet you can't play as her, and it kinda' misses the point when the entire trailer is all about her being rescued by an awesome, strong manny-man.

Pretty dumb, Ubisoft.  That said, any trailer with Woodkid can't be all bad.  Man that guy gets a lot of songs in game trailers.

There's also some new Far Cry 4 stuff, but it's like a mini-documentary made by Vice and is basically a super-serious look at a little vacation some of the FC4 devs took to Nepal to research the game. (Part 1, Part 2.)


Vote for The Evil Within's reversible cover art.

Woo!  We all love reversible covers!  Personally, I prefer Asylum,


but you might be a Piercing Eye guy


or a Twisted girl.


You can vote here. Currently, Asylum is leading with 68% of the vote (because Asylum is the best one, obv.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

PlayStation Plus in August is a ton of the good stuff.



Okay, I wanna' make this quick 'cause I'm super-hungry.

  • Road Not Taken on PS4!  I'm hoping getting it on 4 will unlock it on my Vita, 'cause, naturally, that's where I want to play this. 
  • Fez for all three Sony platforms - the critical darling can be enjoyed by all. 
  • Crysis 3 for PS3 - very nice - always wanted to try it. 
  • Proteus for PS3 and Vita - finally, I'll get to try this little indie non-game without having to pay for it. 
  • Metrico for Vita - more like meh-trico, am I right?
And finally, a little game called


will be available for both PS3 and Vita users, and now nobody has an excuse for not having played it.  I'll be the first to admit, I feel that Dragon's Crown's presence on my Vita contributes very, very highly to my enjoyment of it - and if you've got Sony's handheld, you have absolutely got to check it out therein. 

It's phenomenal.  My play time is now over 250 hours

The Games of Chance 2013 Game of the Year, comin' at'cha!  Dig it!

The sexiest knife in the world.


Last week, I tried to cut a tomato with my old butcher's knife (I was makin' burgers), and it wouldn't slice through the skin.  It like, crushed part of the tomato before it managed to start cutting it.

So, there's that.

Kayla and I are planning a move together, and so have begun poking around furniture shops and home-stuff shops and, the other day because I continue attempting to perfect my fettuccine alfredo recipe, a slightly upper-scale chef's store, offering really good versions of common products.  I bought a cheese planer last week (alfredo success: obtained, but not yet perfected), and bore witness to this obscenely good-looking knife.

With you, I shall do wonders.

Two hundred dollars.

Japanese make.  Folded Damascus steel, which grants you the gorgeous finish of the hamon, revealing the folds, and creates a blade that holds an incredible edge - yes, it is folded just like a Samurai sword.  And quality's awesome - we all love quality - but such beautiful quality.  This knife is a young Meryl Streep.

It's Michael Fassbender, The Knife.


It's called the Shun Classic 10-Inch Chef's Knife.  Ahm in lurrv.

When Kayla and I went back in today, I asked about honing the edge - y'know that thing you see chefs do where they take this like, metal stick and draw the blade down it?  I don't know much, but I know enough to know that's called honing - rather like when an old-timey barber would slap his straight razor up and down a leather strap - it re-aligns the edge of the blade, and extends its life before it needs to be seriously sharpened again.

The lady at the store told me their honers go from $40 to $200, and I explained that I would start with a forty dollar one, thank you very much.  She went in the back to wrap it up, and came out with this,



which is the Shun brand's own honing steel.  The store's resident Knife Guy insisted that because the Shun blade used the harder Damascus steel, it required a different honing steel (honing steel must be harder than the knife steel).

Fortunately, YouTube is here to teach me how to hone a knife edge, and between Jamie Oliver and this learned fellow, I think I've got it down.

Oh, and Kayla bought a knife block/knife set called The Ex, which I choose to believe isn't foreshadowing.

Oh come on.  That's awesome.  You know it is.  You're jealous. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Next-gen beard holy shiiiiiiii-

-iiit.

(Spoilers.)


Oh God it's still so sad.

It's says a lot that the opening scene of The Last of Us still makes me well up, and I was happily snapping screenshots of the new-gen-last-gen game - so pretty!


But, having started the game without installing the day-one patch, I wasn't able to take advantage of the new screenshot mode feature (which I never even tried in inFamous: Second Son).  But that's cool!  Once you start toolin' around with Tess it's all smuggler intrigue and platforming tutorials and shooting a doomed dude in the head even though it wastes a precious bullet and then there's that great stealth sequence when you finally catch up with Robert and Robert's like "it's cool guys, the Fireflies are almost all wiped out so we'll go finish them off together and get your guns!"

And Tess is all "that is a stupid idea," bla!


Bla!

And so, having reached a reasonable checkpoint, I quit the game to install the patch and finally try out this photo mode thing.  A bit like inFamous, I seriously didn't expect The Last of Us Remastered to look nearly as good as it does, up close.

As you pan the camera around, in Joel's face, the reflections in his eyes shift and disappear as it dynamically bounces the light around.  I zoomed the camera in - abundantly up in his grill - and snapped this.


That is in-engine.  That is in-game, that's not a cinematic - that's Joel just running around the game world. I coulda' brought the camera closer, but I wanted to get his whole face in there.  Hang on, lemmie see how close I can get on his eye...

Holy shiiiiiiii



In sadder news,




...but, Rogue Legacy and the Ratchet & Clank collection for Vita finally came out today, and I'm dying to try those out and I'm so happy the Elf finally arrived and joy and kisses to everything in the world, peace!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Send me the tracking number you monsters!


Amazon.com had originally told me they'd ship me my Elf in May.  Then in June.  Then they said they'd cancel my order if I hadn't received it by some point in August and I was like "eff that, this Japanese guy says he'll ship it in 1-2 days."

Turns out the reason Amazon.com hadn't shipped it was because it hadn't been released (not that Amazon's beautiful form letter explained that), and in early July Megahouse finally locked down the release date for the item - July 18th.  Either way, my order had been moved, and on July 18th, the day the figure released, some good people with a far better grasp of English than I grasp Japanese shipped my Megahouse Dragon's Crown Elf Excellent Model PVC Figure.

"[Expedited shipping],we announce you tracking number," their seller information assured.  I had paid for expedited shipping.  Great!  Make with the tracking number.

A week passed, and no tracking number arrived.  Perhaps I should have begun buzzing their bonnet sooner, but I decided to give it ten business days.  No idea why - but I've been obsessively checking my Amazon-associated email account, multiple times a day, on the off chance I might discover an email with Elf-chan's tracking number in it.

Today makes it 11 days since my Elf shipped.



I mean, who are these people I gave two hundred of my dollars to, anyway?  I don't know them.  Couldn't look them in the eye and gauge their trustworthiness.  Obviously, these people had put on a compelling grift consisting of a few dozen positive Amazon reviews over the past year, cobbled together via dummy accounts, all for the point and purpose of making off with my cash money.

And today was a fuck of a day, man.  Just one of those days where you're busting your ass at work all day and still underwater by the end of it.

And then we had to go run errands and I'm just like uuugh this day needs to end and we got home and I opened the door and you can see where I'm going with this.


When I saw the box - the huge box - my heart jumped a bit, and I stepped forward to examine the addressee.  It was for me.  I shrieked.  I cried "wooo!" and immediately carried the brown Amazon box into the kitchen to unwrap.  Inside, the Elf's box was covered in Japanese newsprint and rice paper.

The Elf's box is pretty gorgeous too.

*I did not take this picture, someone with a better camera and lighting did. 

She does, I'm kind of amazed to admit, beat out the spectacular Momohime, even with that ugly-ass foot cone.  It's just an incredible sculpt with a gorgeous paint job and a ridiculously dynamic pose.

I'm not in any way, shape or form a serious collector of Japanese PVC Figures, but I am a serious collector of Vanillaware products, and between Momo and Gwendolyn, my figure collection now spans three console platforms and two generations of gaming.    My beautiful Elf's base is... colossal - and begging to be dressed up with some modeling gear a'la the clever folks over at 2chan:

*I did not take this picture, someone with a better camera and lighting did. 

...so now I kinda' wanna' hit up a model shop and see if I can find some good fake moss, or something.  Or better yet, real moss.  That's likely easier to find...

And lo, my Dragon's Crown collection of expensive plastic figures has begun.

*I did not take this picture, someone with a better camera and lighting did. 

*I did not take this picture, someone with a better camera and lighting did. 

Zero regrets, of course.  The Elf is a stunning reproduction of Kamitani's concept art, and an awesome hero in what I must admit is either one of my favorite games of all time, or My Favorite Game of All Time.

And that's a bold statement, given my experience.

*I did not take this picture, someone with a better camera and lighting did. 

Now the only problem is I'm running out of space to prominently display my Vanillaware heroes.  It may be time to invest in some variety of glass shelving...

Y'know what?  Let's end things off on the rotating .gif.  That's an awesome .gif.

Yeahhh.

Awesome. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hmmm Platinum's Legend of Korra game doesn't look half bad in action.



But here's the problem - I won't be hurting for games to play this Fall.  If this thing had dropped, say, July 10th, I'd be all over it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Akiba's Trip second trailer : I don't care, I'm still getting it.



Still getting it.  Gimmie dem clothes!


I'm kinda' surprised they went with voice overs and not subtitles for such a game so deeply infused with Japanese culture. 

They're adding The Banderas animation to The Last of Us multiplayer.

Revealed by the game's multiplayer designer with some other new additions, and broken down over at DualShockers, this is a very good choice.


...I really should try that multiplayer one day...

Oh!  Also, it sounds like TLoU Remastered is getting an inFamous-esque photo mode.

Alien: Isolation - the cast of Alien.



Getting the original actors onboard for Isolation's DLC is a coup, there's no doubt about that, but (1) Veronica Cartwright, who plays Lambert, sounds completely different and (2) I'm a bit bothered that the preorder DLC's been getting a heckuva lot more attention than the game itself.

Oh well.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gamer Pride.


So my launch OLED Vita, having been viciously attacked by gravity and suffering a fatal edge-impact which damaged its screen, died.  The screen, bloodied and choking for life, lived on for a few precious hours, growing ever-dimmer as it slipped away - but held on long enough for me to disassociate my PSN account from it that evening.  The next morning, it was gone.

I love the OLED screen, for the record, and thanks to the gift (and curse) of foresight, secured a backup OLED Vita before the new Vita Slims (with their LCD screens) launched, in case such a catastrophe occurred.

Once I had transferred all my gaming goodness onto Vita Number Two, it occurred to me - I was now in the same position as I'd been before the Slims launched.  What if something should happen to my new OLED Vita?

I'd be obliged to get a Slim - with its less-vibrant, less-awesome screen - and the thought horrified me anew.

But where to get one?


Sony reps actively removed the original OLED Vitas from Best Buy shelves - they were nowhere to be found in Wal-Mart or GameStop, and the new Slims are just as rare.
"The recently slimmed handheld has been difficult to find in retail stores and in online outlets like Amazon, Best Buy and GameStop. For example, the limited edition Borderlands 2 PS Vita bundle, which was released in May, is unavailable online at each of those outlets (though it is available through Amazon resellers)."
-Polygon, July 2nd, 2014-
I considered calling my local mom-and-pop game shops, but as far as I knew the OLED I'd purchased from them back in April was the last they had.  Fortunately, a fellow forumer had recently needed to replace their Vita, and found solace in the refurbished OLEDs Sony is selling through Amazon.

Done.  Sold.  Yes I'll pay extra for two-day shipping.  No, I don't know why.

So now there are three.

No shame.

The first thing I do with a new Vita - the moment it glides free of its plastic - is to touch nothing on it, and apply a screen protector.

I went back in to the mom-and-pop shop today, because they are literally the only store in my city that had more than a single Vita screen protector for sale, and in my experience you always screw up the first application.  I was more than a bit hesitant at the KMO Protective Shield for PS Vitas they had - never heard of KMO, never used one of their products - but damned if they're not easily the easiest-to-apply screen protectors I've ever come across.  They fit across the entire face of the Vita, not just the screen, created zero air bubbles on the screen itself, and because it covers so much the protector will never slip down over years of use.

So, having tested its screen and found it flawless, the recertified Vita's now ensconced within the protective embrace of my games safe, the fresh Vita sees daily use and the dead one... hmmm....

...I wonder how much Sony would charge to repair it..?


Yay! Thanks, Sony!


Finally, finally there's a release date for CounterSpy!  I am so hyped for that!

So, here's the deal - all four games are cross-buy across PS4, PS3 and Vita, which means if you want the cheapest price for CounterSpy (which I do), you can preorder it on PS3 or PS4, pay 20% less than its launch price, and you'll have it on your Vita for no additional charge.  Deal, says I.

Rogue Legacy is $16.99 or $13.59 with PS+ preorder,

The Swapper is $19.99 or $15.99 when preordered,

Hohokum is $14.99 or $11.99 preordered (seriously?), and

CounterSpy is $14.99 or $11.99 preordered - and that's the biggest news here, as far as I'm concerned.  CounterSpy launches on August 19th.  Huzzah!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go digitally preorder Rogue Legacy and CounterSpy... though I'll admit I've heard nothing but great things about The Swapper...

Oh screw you, Sony!

Today at work, I deleted Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater HD and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty HD off my Vita, for two reasons.  One, I tried the tanker chapter on MGS2 last week and man those controls do not age well.  Two, Sony let us know on Sunday that the Ratchet & Clank Collection drops on Vita today and I am so looking forward to gettin' my intergalactic adventure on!


Monday, July 21, 2014

REVIEW - Genroku Legends: A Spirited Seven Nights' Haunting.

Genroku Legends: A Spirited Seven Nights' Haunting is the third piece of single-player DLC for 2013's spectacular Muramasa Rebirth, following the excellent Fishy Tales of the Nekomata and the funny but less-involving A Cause to Daikon For.  An action RPG with an emphasis on the action, it's a moving stroll through a gorgeously-rendered 2D 1600s Japan.  In addition to the remarkable presentation of Muramasa proper, Haunting skirts Daikon's comedy bent and offers a (welcome) return to the soaring melodrama developer Vanillaware handle so well.

Haunting is a sombre and tragic yarn in the vein of Nekomata, and another enjoyable folk tale that bursts at the seams with distinctly Japanese flavor and sensibilities.

Once upon a time, there was a ninja named Arashimaru.


Betrayed by the clan that raised him, Arashimaru has gone rogue.

To escape his former allies, he utilizes one of his most secret arts in a trap explosion - but in doing so, he shatters the sacred mirror that rests in the decrepit and humble shrine of Shirohebi, a water goddess who takes the form of a gleaming white snake.

Shirohebi doesn't take kindly to the insult.


She wraps her scaly self around his neck - an ethereal weight that presses down on his shoulders but can't be touched - as a reminder of the curse.  Arashimaru isn't bothered - he has business to take care of, and seven days may prove just enough time to do the impossible, and bring down the ninja clan that manipulated him...


Your first taste of Haunting's combat comes in a spectacular duel between ninja apprentice and master across a mountaintop.  Unlike the ponderous Gonbe of Daikon, Arashimaru's speciality is ranged attacks - he can deliver a hail of throwing kunai with rapid taps of square, so quick and so fast that you can stand in the middle of the screen, keeping enemies in before and behind you at bay by zipping the analog stick back and forth.  For heavy hitting, he can unleash bombs that do major damage, but each bomb tossed reduces the ability's spirit gauge, and it cannot be used for long.

His bread-and-butter is a sickle with a weighted chain, useful for close and mid-range combat - and like the flashing claws of Okoi or the graceful swordplay of Momohime, one of the DLC's greatest pleasures is found in simply watching Arashimaru tear through ranks of foes with elegant, stylish twirls and spins as the sickle flips and arcs around him.


Its generous reach aside, his sickle is mechanically analogous to the blades of Muramasa's core campaign, making it instantly comfortable and expressive.  Even better, his sickle, kunai and bombs all behave identically for air-juggle and dashes - hold square, press up, and no matter what weapon he's holding he'll bash it into his foe and spring into the air with them.  Keep square held down and jam the analog stick towards your enemy, and he'll air-dash through them, back and forth up to three times, zig-zagging them into the sky before, for example, continuing the combo with a blinding machinegun fire of blades, hovering in the air as he keeps his enemies aloft with a never-ending stream of kunai.

It's super-sexy.


The water goddess's presence also comes in to play, here, as the vain spirit feels she'd lose face with the other gods if a mere mortal were to slay Arashimaru before her curse does its dark work.  With that in mind, she promises to protect the boy until the eighth morning - and her presence in combat (press circle while airborne) is meaningful, as she uncoils from around his neck into a gigantic serpent that breathes enemy-seeking magic across the battlefield.


Haunting also offers a rebalance of Genroku Legends' remarkable challenge.  Both previous DLCs offered boss battles that would press even the most experienced ninja assassin to their limits, to the point that it was advisable to spend more than a bit of extra time running back and forth across Japan, fighting enemies and earning levels and weapons before attempting their final bosses.  Not so, in Haunting.

True to Vanillaware's standards, the game's bosses are spectacular, imaginative and a ton of fun - and this time, they never really risk frustration.  You don't have to be perfect to beat them - you just have to have mastered Arashimaru, and his formidable skills.

Try to beat Nekomata's second boss at level 11.  I frickin' dare you.

After the less-than-stellar A Cause to Daikon For, A Seven Nights' Haunting is pure, excellent Vanillaware, again.  It's a comfortable size and offers another weird, touching and involving story.  If you want to spend more time with Arashimaru after the credits roll, dashing across a gorgeous rendition of Genroku-era Japan, the game welcomes it.

Watching him run is fun.  He has the classic ninja run.  It's awesome. 

You can, then, explore the entirety of Muramasa's world, from the stairway to Heaven to the very pits of Hell, defeating all of the core game's bosses and challenge rooms with Haunting's hero, if you really want to see the true ending - and Arashimaru is fun, stylish and cool enough that I find myself tempted to do just that, as I did with the Nekomata DLC - which opens it up from a four-hour game into a twenty-hour one.

Easily worth $4.99, Haunting is everything you love about Vanillaware in a tasty, compact package.  Case in point, hot springs:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Ratchet & Clank collection for Vita drops this Tuesday on PSN.

Woot!


So, on my Vita, I've got Metal Gear Solid 1-3 (+ Peace Walker), Sly 1-4, God of War 1-2 (+Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta), and in two days I'll have the Ratchet trilogy.

All I need now is Okami and Odin Sphere, and my PS2-on-Vita wish list will be complete.  'Course those'll never happen...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

So much good stuff comin' to Vita.

Below is what you'll get when you cross-reference Ratchet & Clank with Vita on the ESRB website.  I wonder what the holdup is with getting the Collection released in North America?  Perhaps Sony are hoping to patch the first game, which I hear has some framerate problems on Vita. 


Also in good Vita news, we already know that Rogue Legacy is dropping on the handheld on July 29th - yay! - but yesterday word dropped that the 2D action-RPG/beat 'em up Phantom Breaker: Battlegrounds will land on the handheld at the end of the month as well.  Between this, Rogue Legacy and The Last of Us Remastered, July 29th is gonna' be a busy day for gaming!

Here, have some screens.  Looks cool.



From what gameplay I've seen, Battlegrounds has an odd mechanic to it that confines heroes and enemies to single horizontal axis, and you (and they) have to manually switch from the path in the foreground to the path in the background - perhaps, essentially, eliminating those nasty Streets of Rage style moments where you're mashing the buttons and wiffing on an enemy standing just "below" you in a scene.



It's made by the folks behind the (little-known) Phantom Breaker fighting game and the Corpse Party series - so I'm hoping Battlegrounds will have some nicely deep mechanics to it.